When I was younger, I longed to get home from school, like any other kid, to go outside and be free; ride my bike around the block, connect with friends and let my imagination run free. Today´s adolescents come home to a black screen engulfing their surroundings, by providing a virtual world, causing them to become glued to the screen for hours on end. Video Games are becoming harmful towards the health of adolescents affecting their social, physical and psychological aspects of life.
Your childhood up to your teenage years are the years that you´ll never forget. It's a time to experience life, have fun, learn from your mistakes, and discover yourself as a person. This is something that those may lack if they are too busy being glued to a remote controller. The problem is that adolescents would rather live their life through a virtual world than to actually live their lives to the fullest. Video games are affecting the social aspects of life. So many kids spend every possible moment in front of a screen, whether it be from a phone, tv or computer, that it is now an obsession. This problem has gotten so bad that in 2009, an addiction recovery program called reStart was put into place. This program is for ages 13-30 which shows that this is a problem that has affected a large number of people of varying ages. This therapy program requires the patient to take a 45-90 day abstinence from electronics.
According to Dr. Greg West, a researcher and associate professor at Montreal University, brain scans have shown that once you have hit the 90 hour mark of playing video games, you start to lose the grey matter of the hippocampus. The less grey matter your hippocampus has, the increased risk you have of developing neuropsychiatric illnesses such as PTSD, depression, alzheimer and schizophrenia. If it were my brain, I wouldn’t want to have my life taken away because of video games. How far did this issue have to plummet that we have to tear away teens, young adults and adults from a computer screen?
It has been proven, through the studies conducted on young adults, that as the amount of time playing video games went up, the relationships between their peers and family decreased. In addition to relationships, videogames have also affected the response to different situations and outside stimuli. In a “Singapore study: Kids who play friendlier video games tend to have a sunny outlook”, evaluates the prosocial attitudes and behavior of children. Kids who spent more time playing friendlier and more strategic video games reported more prosocial behaviors. And when presented with the social scenarios, these kids were also less likely to attribute hostile intentions to other people. By contrast, kids who spent more time playing violent video games showed fewer prosocial traits and were more likely to attribute hostility to others.
With this evidence, it shows that video games aren't necessarily bad when they aren't violent. At the end of the day, it comes down to the parental control of what their children are playing and regulate time allocated to the gaming console. Researchers argue that videogames enrich the mind by increasing hand- eye coordination, reaction time, strategic out-of-the-box thinking and the mind's ability to process. They are referring to the video games without violence that scores players on how accurate they can shoot and what they can collect. These video games that are more of a benefit to your mind than a hindrance aren't as popular. Kids tend to gravitate towards the violent games that give an adrenaline rush.
Around 155 million people play video games at least three times a week, affecting the physical appearance of the gamer. Sitting down, your back hunched over with eyes strained isn’t exactly good for our health. Instead of playing video games, one could be spending time outside in the fresh air, doing some sort of physical activity and keeping in good shape or even catching up on sleep that will increase your physical and academic performance. Jerry Kennard PhD., who is a chartered psychologist, an Associate Fellow of the British Psychology Society and an author, states that, “too much time on the video console can cause muscle pain, obesity, seizures, sleep deprivation, lack in motivation, aggressive behavior and a lack of vitamin D”.
Looking at how video games affect the social, physical and psychological aspects of a person, players have to know what they are getting themselves into by spending uninterrupted hours immersed in another virtual world. To help prevent obsession and minimal negative effects, players need to balance the time spent on the console and time spent with loved ones and getting physical activity. Parents must also be more educated on the effects that video games have on their developing child so that boundaries can be made. If they can’t be controlled when they are younger, who is going to be there for them when they can’t effectively socialize, control their emotions or struggle with physical movement. People must pay attention to the effects before it consumes you; holding you back from the real world and all the opportunities that come with it.
Contributing Writer: Taylor Steadman